Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.
It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being
The Martian caught my eye when it was nominated for this year’s Goodreads Choice Awards in the Science Fiction category. I decided tot check it out, and it was totally worth it. Unsurprisingly, it also won the GR Choice Award!
This book is amazing. The tl;dr is Life of Pi on Mars. And that’s a good thing, because I liked Life of Pi a lot.
As with any lone survivor type of book, you spend most of the time with the stranded protagonist, so whether the book works or not depends heavily on whether said protagonist is interesting or not.
Mark Watney is. He’s perhaps the most likable and well written protagonist I’ve read in a while, not to mention clever. And funny. The book has a very easygoing and humorous style, which allows it to include a lot of science and technology and engineering details without it becoming a boring infodump.
The level of technical details in the book is impressive, and the continuous flow of problem vs. solutions, man vs. nature is handled really well. I found myself totally floored at the way the author managed to create impossible seeming situations and then solved them in a way that was smart, and not at all deus-ex-machina-ish.
This book has gotten flak for the fact that Mark doesn’t break down in hysterics when faced with these issues. That he managed to hold himself together. That we never see any psychological issues.
That is true. And I’m fine with it, because the man is a goddamn astronaut. He’s trained, for years, to handle himself well, to stay calm in an emergency. And because this is not a book about character building, or complex neural breakdowns, or dealing with depression. It is about one man taking on a planet! And it handles that beautifully.